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I have been struggling with this decision for a while. I have decided to archive this blog, at least for now. I think I have accomplished as much as I can using this forum. I have been working on two other projects, one of which was completed over the weekend. The second will take a lot more time and most of my energy when I am not dealing with other important aspects of my life.
There have been a great many changes in my life since I came out publicly about what happened to me all those years ago. The discoveries made along the way were, at the same time, shocking, disappointing and liberating. I have spoken with other survivors, some whom I knew as a child, and shared a similar experience. For many of us, the stories are frighteningly similar, the aftermath intensely personal and for some the damage is just much more than can be expressed in words.
I am still frustrated by the lack of a coherent, organized voice to unite the survivors and advocate for a meaningful change in our laws and the way society looks at the problem of pedophiles targeting children. It is so much bigger than the Catholic Church, Penn State, the Boy Scouts of America or any other institutions that based their handling of the sexual abuse of children or vulnerable adults on a risk calculus more suited to protect their financial status and reputation.
Perhaps there will actually be a viable network of survivors at some point. There are groups who are making a difference in their own back yards. I wish them luck and I will lend a hand when I am able to do so.
It is just time to do something else. I will keep the blog on-line because people are still coming to it. I really don’t understand the numbers that still come everyday. But, for now, I do not think I will be posting unless something significant occurs. I will keep the email account open as well. I will delete the vitriol from the apologists who regularly spew their venom and ignore the trolls, I will monitor the rest.
I wish you all well.
This morning I read an article on-line from CatholicCulture.org on the United Nations probe into torture and the Vatican. I find it amusing that the UN, the world’s most ineffective organization, is creating theater of the absurd with the Holy See, the world’s most recalcitrant organization.
The piece I was reading, written by Phil Lawler, wanted to express the author’s opinion that a recent article in the Wall Street Journal did not go far enough in their discussion on the legal position that the Vatican is only responsible for sexual abuse by priests that occurs within the territorial limits of Vatican City. Mr. Lawler wanted to add a few more points on his own. The first of which is:
“First, while sexual abuse is reprehensible, it isn’t torture, as that term is ordinarily understood. If the UN expands the definition of torture to encompass other forms of cruelty, it could erode support for the existing pact, which is based on an international accord that this one particular form of behavior—torture—should be stopped.”
How nice of him to admit that sexual abuse is “reprehensible”. Not torture? That is another matter altogether. While I may not be a Harvard graduate (I only graduated from a Jesuit University), I can read a dictionary. Depending on which dictionary you are reading, either online or a more traditional bound volume, torture is defined as “the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something”; “anguish of body or mind, something that causes anguish or pain, the infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure”
Mr. Lawler, I will say that you are completely wrong on the first point. The sexual abuse I suffered at the hand of Robert Gibson was torture. Over the nine month period when the sexual crimes were committed against me he was, in fact torturing me for his own perverted pleasure. He was causing severe pain and violating my 13-year-old body in an effort to coerce my cooperation, my silence and to punish me for rebelling when I did so. I can assure you, based on my first-hand experience, he derived a great deal of sadistic pleasure from the power he was exerting over me. He employed both physical abuse and rape (as if there is a difference to anyone but the apologists for these monsters) as well as threats and psychological tactics to keep me in line and submissive to his actions. When I fought back, he threatened me with death until death ceased to be an issue with me. He then resorted to threatening retaliation against my siblings if I did not comply. Mr. Lawler, does this not fit the definition of torture as it is “ordinarily understood”? If it does not, please enlighten me with the correct definition.
His second point:
“Critics of the Church charge that sexual abuse by priests was widespread because of Catholic teachings and Vatican policies. But the UN would be setting a bold and dangerous precedent if it claimed that religious beliefs promulgated in one place (in this case the Vatican) were the cause of criminal acts in another.”
Tell me, Mr. Lawler, if the culture of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church did not allow for a blind eye to be turned on the problem of priests raping children and vulnerable adults, what did? I am waiting for the typical “we did not know it was happening, and when we found out we took action”, “it was gay priests doing these terrible things” or the ever popular “this was all a result of the sexual excesses of the 1960’s societal attitude towards exploring sexuality.”
We know that priests were moved around frequently to avoid prosecution and to keep their activities hidden from parishioners. The lack of action, other than to conceal the predators, is widely documented. Sorry, you will lose on that one. The Catholic Church is amazing in its ability to conjure excuses, blame the innocent and claim aggrieved status because they are being picked on when other institutions are not held to the same standard. None of these excuses allow the hierarchy of the church to abdicate their accountability for protecting these predators.
Gay priests are not the problem! Let me say that again. Gay priests are not the problem! If they were how do you explain the girls that have been victimized over the years? Pedophile priests are “the problem”. They like children because they like the power of their position and they get off on the terror they inflict on the most innocent. They like torturing them. (There is that pesky word again) .
As for the alleged issue of the sexual excesses of the 1960’s, that argument seems to ignore the documented cases of clerical abuses for decades prior to the 1960’s.
His final point:
“Finally, does the UN want to be in the business of deciding which religious doctrines are acceptable, and which encourage anti-social behavior? (Some people consider circumcision a cruel procedure; would the UN commission entertain a claim that it is torture?) The Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the groups pressing the UN for action against the Vatican, argues that the Church engages in “psychological torture” by banning contraception.”
The classic deflection! Who does the UN think it is judging the Catholic Church? Mr. Lawler, are you reducing the rape of children and vulnerable adults to “anti-social behavior”? Really?! It is criminal, immoral and inhuman. Anti-social is the least of the descriptors for the kinds of harm done to children by predator priests. But Catholic apologists have to minimize the most heinous and point at the shortcomings of others to dismiss the torturous behavior of those priests (over 6,000 credibly accused and listed on Bishop Accountability.org). On top of it all, let’s throw circumcision or the abortion issue on top of this to totally deflect the discussion away from the elephant in the room. What a lame non-point to be made! That elephant in the room is the church’s inability to deal with the problem of predator priests raping, almost at will, with the knowledge that the church will do anything to avoid scandal, even if it means that children will be victimized, repeatedly, and the predators will enjoy the protection of the bishops.
I don’t want the UN to go after the Vatican. It is a fool’s errand. I want to go after every bishop who turned a blind eye to the torture, rape and beating of children and vulnerable adults. Those “men” are responsible for the culture of protection that these predators operated within. The individual dioceses throughout the world who condoned and concealed these predators while vilifying the victims need to be held accountable.
It is not a matter of religious doctrine being acceptable or not. It is a matter of an institution conspiring to conceal “Roman Collar Crime” in order to keep the funding stream coming in. And it does not matter if the institution is a Catholic Diocese, a Baptist Church, a Jewish Synagogue, Penn State University, the Boy Scouts of America or any other entity. We should, as a society, be standing up and saying the rape of children is wrong. (I know that may be a wild idea to some.) We should be saying the institutional protection of pedophiles is wrong. We should be holding predators and their protectors responsible, criminally and civilly.
We should be in The International Court of Justice in the Hague prosecuting these people for crimes against humanity. Bernard Law and others like him should be in a cell. The United Nations is uniquely positioned to make noise and do absolutely nothing. The Vatican may be embarrassed (although I do not think they understand the concepts of shame or accountability) but all they have to do is wait for the noise to stop. The UN is only good at making noise.
Mr. Lawler, I would have responded to your article on your site but you have to be a donor to voice an opinion and that pretty much guarantees that you will hear nothing but rave reviews of your “cogent” argument. Personally, I can’t imagine you getting it any more wrong.
Dear readers, you do not have to make a donation to make a comment to this site, unlike the rules at CatholicCulture.org. I don’t take donations, there is no place on my blog that will enable you to send me money. I will be honest and say if you are off topic or are spouting vitriol on either side of the argument I will edit or delete. But I will not charge you a nickel to offer your thoughts.
 Merriam Webster http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torture?show=0&t=1399470363
 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition principal copyright 1993
An article in the Scranton Times-Tribune online follows up on the story of Carlos Urrutigoiry and his elevation to a position of authority over priests accused of misconduct in a Catholic Diocese in Paraguay.
The National Director of SNAP, David Chlohessy, is demanding the Diocese release the files on the Urrutigoiry and the events that occurred at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, a residential school sponsored by the Society of St. John, a religious order. Urrutigoiry was credibly accused of sleeping with teenage boys as part of his “ministry”.
It will come as no surprise that the Diocese of Scranton will take no action and that the National Director of SNAP will move on to another press release/photo opportunity. The dance continues and yet no progress is made.
According to an article in the Pocono Record on 14 March 2014, a priest who was credibly accused of molesting boys in Shohola (Pike County) and Moscow (Lackawanna County), Pennsylvania has been elevated to the post of Vicar General of Ciudad del Este Diocese in Paraguay. Now a Monsignor, Carlos Urrutigoity will be in charge of investigations into claims of abuse or misconduct by priests in the diocese. (Anyone else see this as the church taking a stand against the sexual misconduct by priests?)
Back in 2002 a lawsuit claimed that Urrutigoity and one of his henchmen, Father Eric Ensey had been “sleeping” with boys as part of their ministry. Protected by the Diocese of Scranton Bishop James Timlin, the priests escaped prosecution by sending them for “psychological evaluation” in Canada. The Diocese has a long-standing process where they send predator priests outside of the jurisdiction that could prosecute them. Timlin and his diocesan risk managers settled the lawsuit but did nothing else.
Now Monsignor Urrutigoity is operating in Paraguay and is in charge of protecting the people of his diocese from predator priests. Despite Bishop Martino’s letter to the diocese in Paraguay, there really has not been anything done. Had Bishops Timlin and Martino had the ability to discern right from wrong or even if one of them had a spine, they would have taken action in accordance with canon law and sought to have these and other predator priests that operated in the Diocese of Scranton defrocked and exposed. But we all know that is not part of the risk calculus for the Catholic Hierarchy.
This crisis continues for three reasons. First, bishops are still protecting the predators at the expense of the vulnerable. Second, coward politicians who are under the cassocks of the bishops refuse to pass any meaningful legislation to hold the institutions that protect child rapists. Third, Catholic parishioners are not holding their hierarchy accountable. I put the most blame on the last group. For all the lip service from lay Catholics about the ongoing crisis, there is no real action to fix the problem and hold people accountable.
Catholics are not doing what they need to do to protect the innocent. I am sure if their Saviour came back today, he would not want anything to do with these frauds.
“When one goes looking for something, one rarely finds it, but when you least expect it, the object of your search tends to fly up in front of you.”
This is a hard topic to write about. What happened all those years ago, the coverup by the church, the discord in the survivor community. I find myself both drawn to writing and wanting to put all this down and walking away to something else, anything else. I have had people recommend both courses of action, some more profane that others.
I wrote a piece not too long ago looking for the “Survivor Community”. There was no response from the “community”. I know someone is reading “Off My Knees”. I see readership numbers that mystify me everyday. I am even more perplexed when I have not had a post for a little while and the numbers start to climb into the hundreds per day. Usually that is the indicator that something has stirred in the universe and another person in authority (priest, coach, teacher, cop, relative…) has been identified as a molester/rapist of children or that a major piece of legislation has come to a head or that someone has died. When I see random peaks in readership, I go to the analytics that I track for my blog looking for an explanation.
I do get emails from survivors or people close to a survivor looking for answers, advice or a conversation with someone who understands all too well what happened all those years ago. I am very wary of requests for phone conversations and even more concerned about requests for face to face meetings. I am also hesitant to offer advice, mostly because I still have more questions than answers.
The other night I was tracking activity in this blog that turn out to be someone who was reposting a blog post I had written. That is when the thought came to me. As Survivors, we don’t trust each other. Is it possible that what we have in common also alienates us from each other? Our vulgar initiation into this universe of survivors makes us ever vigilant and doubtful of the motives of our correspondents. We will read each other’s posts on blogs and message boards, but there is a hesitance to respond, to act, to come together. For many, we have not really given up the great terrible secret that we have carried for so long. We may be silently watching from the comfort of our own world. Many are not engaged. Many are not ready to be engaged. Many are too tired of all of it to be engaged.
While we may have a great deal in common, we, as a group, do not really talk very much. I kept quiet for well over 33 years. All that silence keeps things from happening. It keeps the well-organized people who protected the criminals who preyed on us strong. It keeps them on the street, it keeps them from being called to account for their complicity.
Our silence also fails to shape the message of our community. Silence is seen by consent by groups that are putting forward an agenda. Those agendas are not always in our collective interest. Within our community there are bitter divisions. Some of the worst vitriol I have seen spewed at survivors has come from other survivors. Discourse between us is not only discouraged, it is often attacked when the message does not support the “national position” .
We still need to find our collective voices, we still need to learn to network. Most importantly, we must understand that, while there is a common thread, we all have very unique experiences that don’t always fit nicely into the general picture being painted of the community. Just as I am amazed at the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to tell the truth, I am amazed at the sometimes vicious tactics used between survivors.
Differences in points of view should be expected. But the infighting and the polarization in the survivor community are doing nothing but helping the people/organizations/institutions who desperately want us to remain silent and subservient.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came as a shock to the Catholic Church and the world. In the last month pundits have examined and speculated on the reasons for his sudden retirement and the tremor that went through the trouble Catholic Church that resulted from his announcement.
In what is being touted as his farewell speech, the Pontiff sited failing health and energy as the reason for his unconventional departure from the throne of Saint Peter. Canon Law (Canon 332, No. 2) states “If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone.” In other words, he can leave and no one has the right to say “No you can’t go!” It seems that the only restriction is that he can’t take his red shoes with him into retirement.
Catholics have an expectation the their Pope will die in office. The departure of Benedict, without benefit of death, opens many wounds that should be addressed by the Conclave. It should be noted that the last Pope to “retire” St. Celestine V, was imprisoned by his successor and died in a papal prison. Scholars believe that the line “who made from cowardice the great refusal” in Dante’s The Divine Comedy was a reference to Celestine V.
So here we are on the first night of the Conclave. Ballot 1 resulted in black smoke. Tomorrow we will see up to four more polls of the assembled Cardinals. These men are as far removed from the teachings of their Lord as can be. Take a look at the media coverage during the last month. Think of the image that is being presented by the princes of the church in their blood-red, silk cassocks and hand tied fine lace. Each in what seemed to be different patterns of finery. Is this what the successor of Peter should look like? Or are we seeing the excesses of royalty in a church wracked with scandal? These men are addressed by grand titles such as “Your Eminence”. Have they become the modern-day Pharisees, enamored of their titles?
These men are sweeping away the numerous scandals and crises in the church as they prepare to crown a new monarch. They talk of looking to the future (why look at the carnage in their wake?). They ignore the sex abuse crisis that has seen children and vulnerable adults preyed upon by sexual predators. The church continues to protect these monsters. As much as Cardinals would like the “scandal” to be over, new stories come forward every day detailing the loss of innocence, faith and trust.
The Vatican Bank has been a scandal for decades. Can you believe that the bank run by the Vatican is considered to be one of the most corrupt in the world? It has consistently failed to be in compliance with international standards. The Pope’s bank has been involved in laundering money for years! Can someone tell me why the Vatican needs to be running a bank? Are there no Italian Banks that can serve the needs of the Curia, while adhering to Italian law and international banking practices?
The fact that the Vatican is a sovereign nation unto itself also makes me wonder what these men in red silk are up to. Although, most of these men are citizens of other countries, they are voting for the head of state of another nation. Should Cardinal Dolan’s American citizenship be revoked because he is an official of a foreign government?
It seems that the men in red silk are a little taken with themselves. They parade around in their finery, vote under the watchful eye of Renaissance masters and try to look like humble servants of the church. I wonder if Jesus was alive today if he would be throwing these pretenders to the throne of Peter out of the temple, exposing them as the frauds that they really are.
Benedict spoke of his concern that the “Lord seemed to sleep”. I would theorize that it is Catholics who are sleeping. They allow crisis after crisis, scandal after to scandal to go unabated. There are no consequences for the princes of the church. Perhaps the forces at work in the Vatican are not those of light and salvation.
Benedict XVI should be wary in his retirement. He did not have the good sense to die. Celestine V was imprisoned by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII. He was seen as a threat that could be used to destabilize the Holy See. He would die in his prison cell, some scholars think he was murdered by order of Boniface.
In the meantime, the world is glued to their smart phones, computers, iPads, tablets and televisions waiting for white smoke to rise from the makeshift chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. I guess we will know who will be wearing red shoes soon enough.
I put a blog post on January 16 entitled 99,601. I thought it was pretty innocuous, more of a “I’m still out here” piece than anything else. It drew a vitriolic response from one reader who decided that it was more of an exercise in narcissism and that I should be taking a more vocal stand against the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). To be honest, this is my blog and I am going to write as often as I am moved to on topics of my choosing. If you don’t like it I would like to direct you the freshly pressed section of WordPress. There is some really neat stuff there.
If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that I do not have a lot of love for the National Director of SNAP. I have voiced my opinion on SNAP and the way the national board conducts business. I wrote a blog post entitle Parting Company with SNAP that spun up a lot of comments and heated discussion, some of it too nasty to approve on both sides of the discussion. Do I really want to rehash that? Not so much! I don’t think, as a blogger, I need to announce annually that I am not a fan of the national leadership of SNAP. I still hold out hope that at some point the Survivor community finds a network where we all get an opportunity to work together collectively to advance a legislative agenda that will lengthen statutes of limitation
Instead of pointing out, again, that I think SNAP is a self licking ice cream cone, I choose to spend my time and some of my money supporting organizations like the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse and Justice4PAKids and their efforts to change laws and do real and tangible good. They are making a difference. SNAP is more focused on having 2 conferences this year, one here in the States and the other in Ireland. I guess the National director is working on improving his standing in the airline rewards program of his choice.
At this point I would add that I am very impressed by some of the state SNAP coordinators. Becky Ianni in Virginia is the real deal. I have only met her twice, but she is a force for good in the northern Virginia and Washington DC region. I would gladly support any effort she led. Karen Polesir has helped me on occasion and is active in a coalition of groups working to get SOL and window legislation through the State Assembly in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
I support people like Kay Ebeling who has been reporting (not blogging, reporting) on the sexual abuse crisis for years and has gotten little support from the survivor community. She has been inspiring and I consider her a friend. Funny, the vocal ones have the church, its apologist and many survivors attacking them. I guess that is the point I am circling here. Even in the survivor community there is a chasm between elements. Being a good, compliant survivor or victim makes you a darling to some of the national groups. Dare to criticize them and see how quickly you are on the outs. Lessons learned from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church I guess.
For now I look at the future. I think that change will come but it will not be led by a national organization. We don’t have an effective one. It will be led by regional groups, some affiliated with larger organizations, some will be independent. Fools will rush in and out. We all need to stay the course. We really will not get anywhere if we are sniping at each other.
Buried in the news, during this political season, was an article in the New York Times that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kansas City was convicted at a bench trial on one misdemeanor charge and not guilty on a second charge, for failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. He was sentenced to two years of probation. He could have been sentenced to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
But here is the kicker (there always is one in these cases)… His conviction can be expunged (“Process by which record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from the state or Federal repository.” Black’s Law Dictionary) if he complies with all the conditions of his conviction. Those conditions, outlined by the presiding judge, include strengthening training for clergy and administrators on child abuse reporting and recognizing child pornography; creating a $10,000 victim counseling fund (surely that will be paid for by the parishioners who are still donating money and not by the convicted prelate); drawing up an approved list of treatment providers (Servants of the Paraclete?); and maintaining an ombudsman (job title change for the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator?).
Finn’s case was set for a trial by a jury. That changed yesterday when the prosecutors and defense attorney avoided the jury trial yesterday when the submitted 69 paragraphs of stipulated facts in a bench trial. The bench trial allowed for victims to be spared the pain of testifying and will help protect their identities. In exchange for his cooperation in the case, authorities agreed not to file an indictment against a second-ranking diocese official, Monsignor Robert Murphy, who had reported his suspicions to the police.
My question… Since he has been convicted, will the hierarchy of the church remove him from his position? Will he do the right thing and step down? Don’t hold your breath! When they move to expunge his record, it will be like nothing ever happened and they will act accordingly.
Read the article at:
The Church is the Real Victim
There is nothing more offensive to me personally as the defensive tactics embraced by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. In this installment of the “Playbook” we will take a look at how the RCC spins the sexual crime crisis to make the RCC look like the victim. Ignore the RCC sex crisis, banking crisis, involvement in murders and kidnappings, Vatican leaks, gay witch hunts, reprimand of nuns to deflect attention away from the sex crisis, loss of parishioners, arbitrary closing of parishes, insensitive detached and out of touch leaders. Ignore it all! The real victim here is Catholicism. (Adjust your sarcasm dials and buckle in.) And the ALLEGED victims of sexual abuse are the source of all the woes of the church.
1. Alleged Victims are hell-bent on the destruction of the church. The hierarchy of the church and the ultra conservative groups that support it are painting the goals of survivors being solely focused on the destruction of the church. Their contention is that we will not be placated until the Bishops’ Chryslers, their summer houses, and their extravagant lifestyles are destroyed. They want to tell the faithful that victims of abuse want to tear down schools and churches, destroy parishes and bankrupt the church until god (lower case intended) is banished from society.
Groups like the Catholic League spit out statistics in support of such claims on a regular basis. Those statistics, for the most part, are unsubstantiated. When I wrote to the point of contact at the Catholic league to fact check a particularly virulent rant from Bill Donohue (Catholic Hater in Chief), there was simply no reply. I guess when you are spinning propaganda to support your local Archbishop the truth is not required.
2. The media is picking on the Catholic Church. You hear this everywhere a church leader or the head of some ultra-conservative church organization or group of church apologists get together in front of a microphone. This is all a vast left-wing conspiracy. The best article I have read in this vein is by John P. Martin called “Church scandal hits close to home“. The article stands on its own merit. I first read this article while keeping up with Susan Mathew’s Blog, Catholics4Change. It first appeared on Philly.com.
Bloggers Note: Do you think if the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and it’s shills would be getting negative media attention if they were not so completely inept, involved in protecting predator pedophiles, running corrupt banking systems, punishing nuns for doing good work, covering up kidnappings of teenagers and funding the extravagant excess of the princes of the church?
3. Trial Lawyers are keeping this issue alive! If you read the Catholic apologists’ blogs and press releases from groups like the Catholic League, you would discover that the “scandal” is being perpetuated by the likes of Jeff Anderson and Marci Hamilton. Their spin is that the trial lawyers and scholars are trying to keep the scandal alive for their own personal enrichment. “There is really good money in those settlements”. Anyone look at the stable of lawyers, PR guys, media consultants and risk management types in the employ of various dioceses, religious orders and Catholic organizations lately? By some accounts the cost of defending Monsignor Lynn ran upwards of $11 Millions! I think, in fact, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is keeping Trial Lawyers (and PR guys and media consultants) alive. Just a thought…
4. These crimes are the work of homosexuals bent on the destruction of the church. Let’s just blame it on gay priests. I have covered this before. Simply put, just before you are gay, does not mean you are a pedophile. The church would like you to believe that the “gay sub-culture” in the priesthood is from where this deviant behavior emanates. But, if this was true, can someone explain to me about the priests who have preyed on girls? You see, with the excuse generators that operate in many of the Chancery buildings around the world it is really true that the devil is in the details. I would imagine that there are gay priests in the church who are doing god’s work and looking after parishioners without trying to slide their hands inside an altar boy’s cassock.
5. The behavior of these pedophiles is a direct result of the excesses of Vatican II and the liberalization of Catholicism. Once again the boys in the curia are counting on the gullibility of parishioners that blindly follow their roman collared handlers. People, if there are documented cases of pedophilia in the church dating back before Vatican II, which ran from 11 October 1962 until 8 December 1965, how can blame the “liberalization of the church”? Put down the church bulletin and the letter from the bishop on the annual fund drive and think. Canon law has articles covering crimes against children by clergy going back hundreds of years. This crisis is not a post Vatican II product. This kind of behavior, and the cover ups by the church, have been going on for centuries. It is built into the fabric of the clergy to protect their institution and avoid scandal at all costs. Even if it is at the expense of a child. The big difference today is that we have social networks that can reveal the true nature of those who will commit heinous crimes against children and those institutions that will protect those predators.
The next installment will cover the methods employed by the bishops of the church to keep priests one step ahead of the sheriff or two steps outside of the jurisdictions that could prosecute them.
This is the second in a series of posts on the tactics in play from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and its apologists (the Catholic League of Extraordinary Idiots comes to mind).
There is Nothing We Can Do About It
The church is using these tactics to wash their hands of responsibility for the actions of their priests, nuns and lay people who have used their positions and stations to commit physical and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults.
This is the plausible deniability strategy practiced by the church in their attempt to shut down victims or organizations within the church who are looking to hold the hierarchy to account for the crimes committed, literally, in the name of God.
1. We’re sorry, but the statutes of limitations have passed. Lawyers are quick to point this one out on behalf of the diocese. “We would love to talk to you, ease your pain, express our deep condolences and regrets, but I see that the SOL’s for both criminal and civil actions have expired. Here, have a mass card and a copy of our Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese. Please leave through the side door and consider a donation to our annual fund drive to support our retiring vocations!” Bottom line here is that once the statutes of limitations has run out, they have no vested interest in working with victims or their families. There is no acknowledgement past the “credible report”. There is no investigation, there is no review under Canon Law. There is no consequence. It is like it never happened.
2. The alleged crimes took place before our policy was in place. Bummer Dude! I hear what you are saying about Father (insert name here). But what happened to you happened before our policy came into effect. We can’t retroactively give a damn about your particular instance. If we did that, we would have to pretend to care about all the other victims of all the other priests we have
hidden retired. That Notice Regarding Sexual Abuse of a Person Under Eighteen Years of Age by Ordained or Lay Personnel of the Diocese information we gave you as we hustled you out a side door in number 1 (see above), sorry buddy, you predate that. So, too bad. Please do not disturb the senior citizens coming into the cathedral, church, or chapel who have bequests for the church written into their wills. We would prefer that they remain oblivious to what is going on. The bishop does need a new Chrysler, the current car is almost 3 years old (gasp).
3. He’s dead, he can’t defend himself against these charges. Inevitably, a victim of abuse who has remained silent for decades will come forward. Often, even if the claim is credible, parishioners and the hierarchy of the church will attack the victim for “trying to soil the good name of Father (fill in the blank). “Why don’t you let him rest in peace!” “You are only going after someone who cannot defend himself”.
In my case, my perp (what do I call him?) died in May. In June I received the first volley of the “let him rest in peace, you are trashing the reputation of a deceased man of god” email. It starts! Suspend the fact that he was a prolific abuser/molester/rapist. Forget the fact the Diocese of Scranton had him locked away for a dozen years. Forget that he was sent to “rehabilitation” and he started grooming his next victim as soon as the backs of his handler were turned.
The variation on #3 is the “he is an addled old man suffering from (insert malady of age here)” who cannot remember what he did”. The diocese, in my case, wanted to garner sympathy for him with me because he was suffering from dementia. Sorry, sympathy is not a commodity I offer wholesale.
The culture of this institution is such that no change is possible as long as the hierarchy is not held accountable. Either from within the church or from civil authority. This morning, word from a courtroom in Philadelphia was that Monsignor Lynn was sentenced to 3-6 years for his crime of failing to protect a child from sexual crimes committed by a priest known to the diocese as an abuser (not the word I really want to use). This is a start. Justice came at a heavy price to the victims and a heavy price to the parishioners whose donations (even if they didn’t know they were footing the legal bill) funded the $11 million + defense costs.
I have been asked if I thought the sentence was reasonable and I think it was. I have to believe in the justice system, the alternative is just not acceptable. That said, Monsignor Lynn should pay for his complicity, but he is taking a bullet for those who wear purple or red. I would like to see the bishops and archbishops who have been playing a shell game with pedophiles for decades to have a day in court and, if a jury convicts, sentenced accordingly. I recommend that Bishop Timlin, late of the Diocese of Scranton be moved to the front of the list. This country needs to send a message that Roman Collar Crime will not be tolerated in any form.